Taste history at Talking Cedar, a distillery, brewery, taproom, and restaurant housed together, creating a place to gather, drink and share. The Chehalis tribe is behind this growing enterprise and is excited to announce that their first spirit called Kayak, a botanical gin, is coming out later this year. The tribe maintains a goal to diversify its economic base and support growth in education, health, housing, safety and opportunities. This flagship business adds to the tribe’s interests, including the Lucky Eagle Casino, a hotel, gas stations, the Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park. Talking Cedar in Rochester has been operating for the past two years, and business is amping up.
A Tribal Distillery on Sovereign Land
When Heritage Distilling Co. approached the Chehalis tribe about a venture to build a distillery, the idea looked promising. The tribe had already entertained the idea and had the land, water and initiative. Plans were drawn up. Shortly before the groundbreaking, the tribe was advised by the government to stop all work due to a federal law enacted in 1834 by then-President Andrew Jackson. It was illegal for a tribe to own a distillery on sovereign land.
The Tribe faced a choice point. One option was to abandon the project. Another choice was to build despite the law and bring national attention to an outdated, racist law. The decision was made: Go to Washington D.C., to lobby for change.
In 2018, after a year of work and help from the Washington State delegation and Heritage Distilling Co., the law was repealed, allowing any Native American tribe to distill liquor on their own lands. “We are the only tribal-owned distillery on sovereign land, that I know of in the nation. We are ecstatically proud to be the first,” says Theresa Collins, director of sales and marketing for Talking Cedar.
Talking Cedar is a Destination
Are you looking for a fun place for a weekend brunch? Maybe you are taking a drive on the back roads of Thurston County – the Bountiful Byway – and need to quench your thirst or fill a carful of hungry bellies. The restaurant has a menu of snacks, house-made soups, sandwiches, salads, burgers and salmon. The covered, outside dining area lets you appreciate our warm weather. Be sure to tour the inside, where there are several places to enjoy your meal. There’s the brewery side with floor-to-ceiling windows giving you a front-row seat to giant, stainless steel vats of brew in process. The distillery side also offers behind-the-scenes views of where spirits are being created. The entryway/gift shop displays flavored liquors, syrups and merchandise.
Remind your traveling friends that Talking Cedar also makes an excellent stopping place along the I-5 drive between Portland and Seattle.
Talking Cedar Flagship Beer Rebranding
There are five flagship brews from Talking Cedar: Juicy IPA, Pilsner, Pacific Northwest IPA, Amber, and the most popular, Raspberry Blonde. The amber is on tap only. Each is distinct, and the varied brews are fun to discover. You can taste notes of tangy citrus, smooth malt, or earthy hops. The new cans have been redesigned to celebrate the sense of place and pride of the Chehalis tribe. With new technology, the cans actually have texture. The QR code on the can will take you to the website. When you are there in person, have a seat in the taproom.
The 15,000-square-foot Talking Cedar distillery is equipped with fermentation tanks over 31,000 liters, custom Italian Pot Stills and Hillbilly Stills, along with a large cask room. There is plenty of room to grow.
Release of Botanic Gin, Kayak
Kayak, their new botanical gin, includes juniper, orris root, Angelica root, lemon peel, bitter orange, Douglas fir tips, fennel, coriander, licorice root, cardamon, black pepper, Nootka rosa petals, lavender and yarrow. This is a unique mix of classic gin botanicals and Northwest-specific floral and herbaceous elements. Two of the ingredients were obtained by foraging. The brewery and distillery use a private well. They have a water treatment plant to make sure that the water that goes back into the environment is safe.
Talking Cedar Memberships & Clubs
Talking Cedars offers two ways for customers to get access to brewery discounts, private events and special deals.
Members will get a special monthly pour in a 32-ounce growler, reduced prices on other pours, discounted merchandise, special invitations to exclusive events and more.
A program with Heritage Distilling Co., members can create and customize their choice of spirits. It’s an opportunity to learn about the aging and distilling process while dialing in your own preferences. You can taste along the way. There are also various discounts and special prices on cocktails and snacks at all HDC locations.
Talking Cedar Looks Ahead
Look for flavored whiskeys to roll out soon in a line called Tail Feather. The Chehalis tribe is proud of its expanding venture. “We are a lone entity. We welcome other sovereign distilleries. We would help any other tribe,” says Theresa.
For more information, including the beer finder, go the Talking Cedar website.
19770 Sargent Road SW, Rochester